General Assembly sessions convene each year on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January, but the real work of making new laws doesn't begin until early February.
In odd-numbered years, this lack of production arises from the constitutional mandate that, after meeting for a few days to elect legislative leaders in early January, lawmakers don't reconvene until the first Tuesday in February.
In even-numbered years, when the General Assembly remains in session throughout January, the lack of production can largely be attributed to lawmakers' reluctance to deal with any consequential issues before the late-January filing deadline for legislative elections passes.
This year, a legal challenge to a new legislative redistricting law will add at least an extra week to this period of non-productivity. On Tuesday, the designated date for the filing deadline, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd issued a restraining order effectively delaying the deadline until at least Feb. 7.
Despite this unfortunate consequence, Shepherd's action certainly appears justified.
In drawing up the redistricting maps for their respective chambers, Senate Republicans and House Democrats made some rather odd decisions that invite judicial scrutiny.
In a suit challenging the House plan, Republican lawmakers argue that it is unconstitutional because it splits too many counties, exceeds the permissible variance in populations among districts and pairs non-contiguous counties by means of narrow corridors through counties in the middle of the districts.
As an intervener in the House Republicans suit, Democratic Sen. Kathy Stein has raised the issue of whether the voters in her former district will be disenfranchised by a switch of district numbers that leaves them represented by a Western Kentucky senator for the next two years while effectively prohibiting her from seeking re-election this year.
Each of these arguments raises a valid state constitutional issue worthy of review by our judicial system.
If the review prolongs the angst of overly timid incumbent legislators, so be it. They could have avoided this situation by approving a redistricting plan that didn't raise these issues.